As you know, we have been prevented from having our annual conference and business meeting for two years now. This morning, we held a digital business meeting to address some voting matters and to spend some time in prayer together.

Representatives from the following churches joined us for all or part of the meeting:

  • Antioch Bible Church (South Africa)
  • Comunhão dos Crentes em Cristo (Mozambique)
  • Eastside Baptist Church (Namibia)
  • Emmanuel Baptist Church (South Africa)
  • Germiston Baptist Church (South Africa)
  • Grace Baptist Church Amanzimtoti (South Africa)
  • Grace Baptist Church Daveyton (South Africa)
  • Grace Baptist Church Khayelitsha (South Africa)
  • Heritage Baptist Church (South Africa)
  • Hillcrest Baptist Church (South Africa)
  • Hope Baptist Church (Zimbabwe)
  • Kabwata Baptist Church (Zambia)
  • Living Hope Church (South Africa)
  • Manzini Fellowship Church (Eswatini)
  • Midrand Chapel Baptist Church (South Africa)
  • Midrand Christen Gemeente (South Africa)
  • Nelspruit Bible Church (South Africa)
  • Trinity Baptist Church (South Africa)
  • Tzaneen Baptist Church (South Africa)

While we awaited delegates to join the meeting, Peter Sammons gave an update regarding upcoming Gauteng Spurgeon’s fraternal, including informing the brothers present that it would be his last time arranging a Spurgeon’s fraternal since he had received a call to pastor a church in the United Kingdom, pending the successful application of documentation from home affairs.

Joachim Rieck, current chair of the steering committee, offered some brief words of welcome to those present. A transcript of his welcome message is included below.

Dear brothers,

Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth (Psalm 121:2; 124:8)

It has been a long while since we have met in person. 2019 was the last time we assembled in Eswatini. Little did we know then what great challenges would come upon us, and the churches which we represent. These last two years have been challenging, to say the least. We have been facing a real pandemic in which many real people have died. Over 1,400 people died in Namibia between 28 June 2021 and 28 July 2021 alone. Many more have experienced difficulties in recovery afterwards.

In addition, we have been facing the reality of being divided on grounds of different opinions on vaccinations and how to deal with the government and social restrictions imposed upon us by this event. If ever we needed to keep our heads clear, if ever we needed our hearts to beat for Jesus and his gospel, if ever we needed to cling to the word of the cross, if ever we needed to demonstrate our love for Jesus and for one another in the Spirit of 1 Corinthians 13:4–7, it is now. The enemy of our souls is having a field day in the midst of this present crisis, and yet we must be convinced of this: the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness will not overcome it (John 1:5).

Sola 5 was inaugurated in April 2005. Our common desire has been to reassert the vital notions of the authority of Scripture, of Christ-centred faith, of gospel grace, of justifying faith and of the God centred life—the five solas. If ever we needed to hold on to these things and assert these things, in the spirit of truth spoken in love (Ephesians 4:15), it is now.

The fact that we have not been able to gather across our borders must not hinder us in any way to embrace the truth of our doctrines, and to live in the spirit of these doctrines, whether we can gather together or not. The truth as it is in Jesus (Ephesians 4:21), and which binds us together, is at all times greater than our ability to meet in person. Remember that our brothers in history have been prevented many times from meeting, and yet the Lord of the church has sustained them. He has kept the church alive, for he promised: “I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). Brothers, Christ has already died to purchase our unity. We, in turn, must be “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). Therefore, “hold on to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame”, brothers, “and remember that he is seated at the right hand of God” (Hebrews 12:2) “from where he shall come again, to judge the living and the dead” (2 Timothy 4:1; see the Apostles’ Creed). And remember that he is not slow to fulfil his promise, as some count slowness (2 Peter 3:9). Persevere in prayer for one another. Thank you, Stuart, for faithfully sending out the reminders by which we are reminded to pray for one another. Remember each other, and more than criticising each other, pick up the phone, or write an email, or send a WhatsApp and encourage one another from the heart (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

Sola 5 is an association of likeminded churches in Southern Africa, existing for this purpose- to create an awareness of the greater work of God in Southern Africa, for the purpose of mutual encouragement and co-operation, where possible. We are not a denomination. Please remember that. We have no headquarters. We are no political pressure group. Our steering committee is just that—a steering committee.

If you want to know what we believe then let our name speak for itself: Sola 5, beginning with the place of Jesus our sovereign head among us, and the authority of Scripture, and the importance of being supremely led by our faith our sovereign King alone, and all this in the spirit of the doctrines of grace, which ought to make us gracious.

And consider reading our handbook, which provides our Confession, Core Values and Constitution. Amen.

Stuart Chase reminded the delegates that three existing members of the steering committee (Sammy Leballo, Tim Cantrell, and Donovan Drew) were retiring and did not seek renomination. Four new nominations had been received: Phil Hunt; Quinton Maneville; Paul Schlehlein; and Des Venter. A link for digital voting was sent to all the delegates in attendance, with one vote recorded per church. All four brothers received the required votes to join the steering committee for the year ahead.

Phil Hunt

Phil Hunt

Kitwe Church

Quinton Maneville

Quinton Maneville

Reformed Faith Mission Community Church

Paul Schlehlein

Paul Schlehlein

Trinity Baptist Church

Des Venter

Des Venter

Grace Baptist Church Amanzimtoti

Updates and prayer requests were received from the churches represented, after which time was spent in prayer for the following matters.

Wayne Jardine (Tzaneen Baptist Church) prayed for Germiston Baptist Church and Antipas Pretoria as the churches were in the process of looking for new pastors. Peter Sammons (Germiston Baptist Church) and Jacobus de Koning (Antipas Pretoria) were emigrating to England and Scotland respectively.

Chris Woolley (Midrand Chapel Baptist Church) prayed for Grace Baptist Church in Khayelitsha, which was in the process of searching for land. The church had identified two plots of land: the better suited plot for R2.5M and the less suited plot for R780K and was praying for provision.

Donovan Drew (Living Hope Church) prayed for Grace Baptist Church in Daveyton, which had faced all sorts of red tape from the town council concerning its building plans.

Bill Joe Zwart (Hillcrest Baptist Church) prayed for two church plants that Eastside Baptist Church was involved in.

Peter Sammons (Germiston Baptist Church) prayed for Emmanuel Baptist Church, with its particular focus on a church plant in Ruimsig, which was going well.

Richard Peskett (Nelspruit Bible Church) prayed for Charles Woodrow, who was embroiled in a court case involving the purchase of a plot of land in Nampula, which was being developed into housing for missionaries. Charles had purchased the land and made significant improvements to it, but a former owner had subsequently made a claim to the land and the decision was with the courts.

Des Venter (Grace Baptist Church Amanzimtoti) prayed for Tzaneen Baptist Church. Wayne Jardine was the only elder there after his fellow elder had stepped down from the eldership and was praying for God to add more men to the eldership.

Stuart Chase prayed for Antioch Bible Church, which was involved in a civil court case to argue for religious liberty for churches in the face of potential future lockdowns. Stuart also prayed about the church’s involvement in a church plant in the nearby Zandspruit township.

Following this time of prayer, Stuart thanked all for their attendance and ended the meeting.